I used to wake up every day with pretty high hopes for myself. I would go to bed each night, think about the tasks I needed to complete the next day and say to myself…“I’m going to wake up and knock. that. shit. out. No problem.”
Yeah, that hardly ever happened.
I wasn’t napping, I wasn’t “taking quick breaks” to go to Target and I wasn’t watching ANY TV. So why wasn’t I getting anything done?!
I was multitasking.
“But multitasking is a good thing.” Eh, debatable.
The thing about multitasking is that multiple tasks have your focus at one time (like that word breakdown?). It can be a great thing if you’re working on one thing while other things that don’t require your attention are happening in the background (i.e. you have a load of clothes washing/drying while you’re on a conference call). But if you have a list of tasks to do that all require your undivided attention to finish, you’ll never finish everything by trying to multitask. You just won’t.
Effective time management is one of the top things that entrepreneurs struggle with, especially when their business is based out of their home. It is so easy to get sidetracked and jump from one task to the other, and when 5:00 rolls around you realize that you haven’t gotten anything done even though you’ve been working feverishly all day long.
I get it. I really do. Because that was me.
Now…introducing the best thing to ever happen to my time management skills: Time Blocking. TADA!
Some more word breakdown from the land of the obvious: time blocking is literally blocking your time to complete certain tasks. It’s extremely easy and can be accomplished in a few steps, but it has had such an impact on my daily time management and productivity.
Before we begin, I recommend downloading my Time Blocking Template. It was created with time management in mind, it’s colorful, ready to use and as an added bonus, it’s free.
*If you’re a Free Resource Library subscriber, the template can be downloaded straight from there!*
So where do I start with this Time Blocking magic?
1. Write down the tasks that you need to complete: I like to do this day by day, mapping out each day the night before. Some people like to plan out their entire week or month in advance (which would totally give me hives) but it’s really up to you how far out you want to schedule your tasks. If you find that each day or week you tend to do the same tasks, you can probably comfortably schedule out a little further.
2. Think about how much time each of those tasks will realistically take: Don’t try to be an overachiever here. If you think something is going to take you two hours to complete, give yourself two hours. Trying to jam more tasks into your day isn’t going to benefit your time management! The whole point of this is to complete tasks, so if you aren’t allotting yourself enough time, it defeats the purpose.
3. Physically block out your schedule and fill in your tasks: This part is exciting. You can do this in your planner, on your computer’s calendar, on a piece of paper, on my FREE Time Blocking Template (download here!) or really anywhere you want as long as it is written down in a place where you can see it. What I recommend doing is writing down your timeframes and filling them in accordingly.
So from 8:00am-9:00am I’m going to ONLY work on answering emails.
From 9:00am-11:00am I’m going to ONLY work on this week’s blog post.
From 11:00am-12:00pm I’m going to eat lunch.
So on and so forth for the entire day.
4. Stick to it. Ah, the follow through. It really is extremely tempting to jump around from task to task, I understand. One minute you’re sitting there doing your work and the next minute you’re sending out an email because a GENIUS topic just popped into your head and you feel super motivated. You don’t think it’ll derail the rest of your day, but before you know it, you realize that you’ve half-assed everything and whole-assed nothing for the entire day. Trust me, time blocking is the cat’s pajamas when it comes to time management and productivity. Do one thing at a time and do it well.
How to Use the Free Time Blocking Template:
- Use the first page to write down all of the tasks you want to accomplish that day/week/month (print out multiple pages if necessary!) and how long each task will take to accomplish.
- Use the second page to block your time. In the left hand column, there is space to write down the times for your tasks.
Ex: 8:00 to 9:30 – Work on weekly email
Tip! If you’re a daily planner (like me!) laminate these pages and write on them with a dry erase marker. Erase tasks as you complete them and start fresh each day! Less paper for you to keep up with and it helps save the trees that we all love so much!
Other Time Management Tips:
- Build breaks into your day: We all want to feel like a modern-day warrior who doesn’t need food or rest, but we’re humans (kick-ass humans, but humans, nonetheless). Taking breaks keeps you refreshed and helps prevent your eyes from glazing over after staring at your work for too long, hence increasing your productivity. Build in a series of five to ten minute breaks throughout your day with a longer break for lunch.
- If you run over on time for one of your tasks, stop where you are and move on: “But I’m justttt about done.” We’re all guilty of telling ourselves that…and then five more minutes turns into another hour. When your allotted time is up, move on to your next task and either pick that task up at the end of the day or put it on tomorrow’s list.
- Set a timer/alarm to keep you on track: Sometimes I get so in the zone that I don’t even notice I’ve been working away for two hours. Set yourself a timer to alert you when that task’s time is up. And be sure to follow the golden rule of a productive day: resist the urge to hit snooze.
Alright, productive peeps. I hope this post was helpful to you and inspired you to take control of your time management! Blocking your time helps prevent you from becoming distracted and ultimately increases your productivity. Put an end to counterproductive multitasking once and for all!
Related Post: How to be More Productive When Working from Home
If you haven’t already, you can download my free Time Blocking Template here: